A bit of haste or anxiousness to get through the red light, and I could have run into the ambulance I suddenly found in front of me, as I drove to a party in Salt Lake tonight where they were watching Hitchock. I imagined hitting it, and felt relief that I'd been relaxed and hadn't come close. As low deeds available to one in modern society go, hitting an ambulance seems among the lowest. Though this one was moving without siren or lights, in the normal flow of traffic, and so of course it wasn't carrying anyone.
But as I stared through the back window, I realized there were three professionals gathered there, all looking down at something. No, acting as well as looking, and wearing concerned looks. I couldn't see a patient, but it was obvious there was one. An EMT adjusted something -- an IV bag. Another rotated around to the other side of the van.
I've riden in an ambulance once. I was 16, had just come out of the hospital after spending three days there recovering from an ACL repair. I'd felt weak the whole day, and as I sat down at home to eat a bowl of Almond Delight, an odd, sharp pain growing near my solar plexus made me imagine an almond sliver stuck at the bottom of my esophagus. I considered this for a moment, feeling dizzy. My family asked if I was OK. My Dad said I was turning ash white. I said I'd thought they should call an ambulance before I found myself overwhelmed in a tide moving in and out of full consciousness, humming in my ears, vision clouded, swimming through a world where breathing was a choice I would have to concentrate on. They carried me out on a stretcher. I would come out of it halfway to the hospital, pass a battery of tests on my lungs and heart, and speculation that it was an "esophogal spasm" rather than a pulmonary embolism, and we were all grateful.
I wonder about all this as I gaze in at the rear window of the ambulance in front of me, stopping behind it at first one, then two, then three stoplights. I am listening to the radio, still enchanted by the concert I've come from, thinking about who will be at the apartment I'm going to, whether I'll get my chance to flirt with E., if there'll be food, wondering what we'll watch. Inside the van in front of me is the world of body fluids, blood pressure, life and death.